Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Dennis Rodman: Kim Jong-un wants to talk basketball with Barack Obama

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and US players at an arena in Pyongyang (AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and US players at an arena in Pyongyang (AP)

North Korea’s young leader has riled the US with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong-un doesn’t really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to unlikely diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.

“He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there” as a way to warm up relations between the US and North Korea, Rodman told ABC television’s This Week.

“He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing, call him,” said Rodman, who called the authoritarian leader an “awesome guy” during his trip. The State Department criticised North Korea last week for “wining and dining” Rodman while its own people go hungry.

Rodman also said Kim told him: “I don’t want to do war. I don’t want to do war.”

Yet in January, after the UN Security Council voted to condemn the North’s successful rocket launch in December and expand penalties against Kim’s government, his National Defense Commission said in a statement that “settling accounts with the US needs to be done with force, not with words.”

The statement also promised “a new phase of the anti-US struggle that has lasted century after century.”